Despite Obstacles, Guatemalan Entrepreneur Finds Success

03.13.2020 | Martin A. Friedl
Lucia on stage after participating in a Storytelling event of the Xelajú Naranja program in Quetzaltenango.

Being an entrepreneur in Latin America is difficult.   Being an entrepreneur in a city that is hours away on a winding road from the capital city in Guatemala is even harder. In addition, as a woman, the challenge of being a successful entrepreneur is even greater. Women face many cultural barriers including machismo and gender stereotypes. Women in charge of their own businesses face even more difficult hurdles. This is a story about one woman’s journey in facing these obstacles and succeeding. Meet Lucia Suasnavar.

Lucia, a rising star entrepreneur in the city of Quetzaltenango, started her company, FOCUS STUDIO, as a personal goal.  Ever since her studies, she always dreamed of owning her own publicity firm. When she finally took the plunge, she made the decision to start her own company as a personal challenge. She wanted to show that she could start and run a different kind of company, one that gave back to her community.

“When I got started, I did not want to be a traditional (publicity) agency, but one, that through its work, would leave a mark in the local economy.”

Four years later, Lucia is now at the helm of a multidisciplinary company, one that thrives by prioritizing strategy, innovation and sustainable impact for its clients. FOCUS STUDIO provides market analysis service, with innovative geo-location methods, branding and marketing, visual content development, and interactive design services (including mobile app development).  FOCUS STUDIO clients understand the need to develop scalable business models. Clients include the food and beverage industry (including companies that are expanding in the country), regional telecommunication companies and civil society organizations.  For 2020, FOCUS STUDIO also plans to open an additional physical office in Antigua, to serve clients in that city.

Her journey in starting the company has also helped Lucia grow as a person.

“FOCUS has allowed me to meet many people with different viewpoints, get to know different cultures, open my mind to new worlds, and truly immerse myself in what is going on in my community.”

Lucia summarizes her achievements in a few words.

“What I am most proud of is the team of people that work with me, and the fact that we are able to work together on a common vision and that we have come to understand that it is possible to build a different type of company in this industry.”

When asked about her experience of becoming a successful entrepreneur, Lucia, who is a graduate of CIPE’s-sponsored entrepreneurship program Xelajú Naranja (“Orange Quetzaltenango”), credits the program for helping her to make it all happen.  In Lucia’s mind, the program not only benefitted her, but helped elevate the entrepreneurial community in the city.

“The program has allowed me and many entrepreneurs to make the decision to follow their own ideas, create businesses or re-think their initial business plans.   Xelajú Naranja has also allowed to make a segment of the economy, the creative industries of which I am a part of, visible to the rest of the community. Through training workshops and community building activities, it has allowed us to make connections among program participants that can go beyond being peers during a training.  In my case, it has allowed me to meet other entrepreneurs, work on joint projects, and start building a new community in our city. “

As we celebrate International Women’s History month, I am encouraged that brave women such as Lucia are forging a new path in Guatemala and giving hope to a new generation of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who are not afraid to stay and better their communities.